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The Secret Success of E3’s Trade Show

Blog: Technology

7/4/2017
— Matt Urquhart 

Last weekend, E3 – the world’s most high-profile games show – opened its doors to the public for the first time.  

For the past 22 years, E3 has been the first event in every gamer’s diary. Major publishers such as Microsoft and Sony use the trade show as a way to announce new games in development or new hardware, which leads to a boost in their stocks.

However, in recent years, the press and game developers have questioned whether E3 is still relevant in the current landscape. Is a trade show press conference really the best way to show off new games?

With less and less game developers signing up for the show over the last two years, the event had to evolve with the times and change what it means to be a trade show. This year, E3 steadied the ship and even reached a record-high attendance of 68,400 people.

I have broken down the secret to its success – three factors that other trade shows should emulate as they strive to remain relevant.

Embrace the public

E3 has traditionally been open to the press and investors, giving them the time to try new demos and interview developers about its latest projects. However, E3 changed that this year, letting 15,000 members of the public buy tickets for the event to experience what the 22-year-old tradeshow has to offer.

Some would argue that trade shows aren’t for the public, but one of the best ways to entice investors and the media to talk about your brand is to show that you can capture consumers’ attention. Having an enthusiastic audience at your conference cheering on the reveal of a product or campaign really adds to the energy of a conference or pitch.

Speak to the consumer, not the investor

With the addition of live streams, there has never been more people watching trade shows, and E3 understood that they had to adapt to remain relevant.

Trade shows are traditionally events used by companies to show off new products and concepts to investors in the hope that people will buy into the brand. This is usually in the form of a conference or presentation to show what the product can do and includes a CEO speaking about data, analytics and ‘forecasts’.

This is where companies trip themselves up.

Many are still in the mindset that trade shows are only viewed by people in the industry. That just isn’t the case anymore. Most trade shows are watched online by the public who want to get a glimpse of future products that they can look forward to buying.

By creating an entertaining conference, companies will be more engaging to customers watching than an hour-long PowerPoint presentation with prediction graphs or over-complicated explanations. While these figures may be of interest to investors, they should be left until after the presentation if they have shown further interest.

Show, don’t tell

Gone are the days when media relied solely on a great CEO soundbite when reporting at trade shows. Video footage is the new norm and receives a lot more traction than a traditional article.

So, let your product or idea do the talking for you.

Shawn Layden, President of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, announced before E3 that this year’s PlayStation presentation would have less talking, more games. Sony had enough confidence in its products and audience that they didn’t feel it necessary to over-explain the games. The quality of the product spoke for itself and the presentation flowed better for it – not a projected sales graph in sight!

So, have faith in your idea and show investors and consumers why they should care – rather than telling them why.

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